Lee Bullen has challenged Sheffield Wednesday’s youngsters to stake a claim for a first-team place when the squad begins pre-season training next month.
England Under-19 international Cameron Dawson, Ayo Obileye, Johnny Fenwick and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe have all recently penned their first professional contracts, having come through the Owls youth set-up.
Now Bullen, Wednesday’s Development Squad head coach, is urging the quartet to force their way into manager Dave Jones’ plans over the summer.
“We would not have given these players contracts if we didn’t think they could potentially go on to be first-team players,” he told The Star. “All of them are good young players.
“But they will not be wrapped up in cotton wool anymore. They have got to become men.
“There will be times when they train with the first-team but we can get them out on loan if they don’t get much action.”
Young Wednesday shot-stopper Dawson has trained this week with the Three Lions squad ahead of their forthcoming European Championship qualification fixtures with Georgia, Belgium and Scotland.
Earlier this month, Obileye penned a one-year deal and Bullen is a big admirer of the central midfielder, who can also operate in defence.
“Ayo has developed tremendously well,” he said. “He has just turned 18 and is a really big lad. Ayo is around six foot three, six foot four.
“He has the attributes to play at centre-half but we see him more in the mould of Yaya Touré because of his size. He has got fantastic technical ability for such a big lad. Ayo is a big presence in both boxes. We see him as a midfielder.
“The raw ingredients are there with him and his biggest attribute is that he can pick out a pass.”
Versatile defender Fenwick and striker Dieseruvwe are contracted to the Championship club until the end of the 2013/14 season.